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How to get a Free Website and Domain Name

September 16, 1893: more than 100,000 threadbare pioneers astride horses, mules, oxen, bicycles and wagons gathered by the entrance to the Oklahoma Cherokee Land Strip. At noon, the hordes stampeded into the virgin prairie, each eager to stake out 160 acres as his.

In 1990, when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, another land rush occurred – but this one was digital. Today, the Internet has many an entrepreneur wondering, “How can I homestead my own free website?”

Wonder no more.

To get your own website, <strong>you need a domain name,</strong> like this: You have to register your domain with a website provider, such as GoDaddy or Freenom. Most will not give you a free .com or .net website, both of which are beloved for their SEO performance. Instead, you might get something like .biz or .repair.

Some extensions come with conditions. The New Zealand registry Dot Tk, which operates the .tk domain, will replace your site with an advertisement page if you don’t generate regular traffic.

Now that you own a top-level domain name, <strong>you need to find a web host.</strong> That could be Weebly, Webs, HourB or a dozen others. Most free hosting services restrict your bandwidth (how much data your visitors can view over time) and your storage (how many files you can upload).

Alternatively, <strong>you could register for a free subdomain</strong> like this: You only own the subdomain. It’s like owning a house in a Homeowners’ Association. WordPress and Blogger offer free subdomains and free hosting, but again, they come with caveats. If you pack up and move sites, then you must modify your .htaccess file with a 301 Redirect, or else you will lose your search engine popularity.

Once you register your domain and find a host, <strong>you must design your website</strong> from the host’s cPanel. Some hosts, like WordPress, offer free templates. Others, like Wix and Square, have drag-n-drop builders. Either way, you are often limited to adding template pages, filling out text boxes and inserting pictures. Very few web hosts permit you to use e-commerce shopping carts. Also, you cannot code from scratch using HTML, CSS, Javascript or PHP, nor can you directly modify those site files. NeoCities will let you build your own HTML site as long as it’s smaller than 10 MB.

One final caveat: Most free websites will have advertisement banners or columns over which you have no control. If you want to <strong>lose the ads and upgrade,</strong> many hosts offer upgrade packages for approximately $5 per month.

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